I don’t think we’d ever intend to go to Atlanta for a weekend away, but this sprawling city had a few nuggets that brought us a lot of joy.
On Friday night, we started off having local Sweetwater beer and bourbon cocktails at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails on Peachtree. The bourbon selection is what made it enticing, but the charcuterie board, venison pastrami sandwich, BBQ shrimp, and BLT were why we’d go back.
From there, we went out to get drinks at the Park Tavern at Piedmont Park. Because nearly everything in Atlanta is a drive, we used our Uber driver as a night time tour guide. Turns out Atlanta has a high line like NYC (called the BeltLine) taking an old rail bed as a bicycle path. There are awesome looking bars and restos where the trail meets the main drag.
Saturday in Centennial Park.
Centennial Park was appealing because it was one of the few walkable attractions. Yet, looking back on it, even if it wasn’t, we’d highly recommend a visit. There’s the park itself, the College Football Hall of Fame nearby, CNN studios, the World of Coca Cola, Human Rights Museum, and the Georgia Aquarium.
We started with the World of Coca Cola. When we travel abroad, we’re often in somber museums filled with cultural importance. Differently, this was an opportunity to do something that was really fun. Once you forget that it’s just one big commercial to make you fall in love with the product, it’s got a lot to offer adults as well as children. First, they welcome you with a coke beverage and lead you into the “Attic,” which contains all kinds of Cole memorabilia from around the world.
Then you move to an adorable movie about the joys Coke brings and through various exhibits about the “secret formula,” the myths and legends of Coke’s creation, additional memorabilia from Coca Cola sponsorships, and to another theater to see all those famous commercials you grew up with.
Then there’s Mr. Polar Bear, an animatronic bear from commercial fame.
You end up in a room full of fountain sodas from all over the world. Inca Cola from Peru (bubblegum) was a fave. And if that wasn’t ENOUGH coke, you get a glass bottle full on the way out!
From there, we went to the Georgia Aquarium. Although the $40/pp price tag appears daunting, it’s well worth the expense. The aquarium is vast and there are shows with animals included in the price. As you enter, you have four different large rooms to enjoy. The best room is called Ocean Voyager. The highlight of it all is a long, winding tunnel under a massive tank where you can see fish, whales, and rays in flight above you.
The tunnel ends at a large acrylic glass wall where you feel like a SCUBA diver usurping on these majestic creatures. Across the aquarium is Coldwater Quest, which features some of the coldest tanks in the place. Beluga whales are left alone because they can’t be trusted not to eat their tank mates. Meanwhile, sea otters are given center stage to eat mackerel off their stomachs. Finally, there’s a tunnel to become one of the penguins!
Finally, we’d highly recommend taking in the sea lion show at Pier 39 featuring rescued sea lions who are ambassadors to the world and research partners to the biologists at work in the Georgia Aquarium.
Sunday morning is all about brunch in #ATL.
You could stand in line at The Flying Biscuit Cafe, a highly recommended brunch spot in Midtown. But better to cross the street and have brunch at 10th & Piedmont. Food service starts at 10am, but the bottomless festivities start at 12pm due to local rules. The Chicken and Waffles is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s bacon-wrapped white meat chicken on a skewer that is dipped in waffle batter and fried corn-dog style. Served with dipping sauce including maple and sorghum syrup, it is unique and worth the try. Even better (if that’s possible) is the Fried Chicken and Biscuit Gravy. The chicken is perfectly fried and still scrumptiously tender inside. The red gravy makes the dish though. So does asking for a side of homemade hot sauce. 10th & Piedmont is attached to a sister resto called The Corner, featuring an enticing tapas style menu.
Arrive: Getting from the World’s Busiest Airport to downtown hotels couldn’t be easier than on Atlanta’s metro system (called MARTA). Signage is apparent. Payment at ticket kiosks is a breeze. Buy a round trip to save a buck on the reusable card. It’s a short ride on a clean metro system.
Stay: Highly recommend the downtown Ritz Carlton featuring complementary shoe shine service and walkability to Centennial Park.
Why we’ll go back: To ride bikes on the BeltLine; eat in Blandtown northwest of downtown; drink at Sweetwater Brewery.